Set at the foot of the Alborz mountains, Tehran, once an agricultural enclave characterized by forests and abundant mountain water, developed at the site of a citadel since medieval times. Tehran was first walled during the Safavid era, in the mid-sixteenth century. With the decline of other regional centers, Tehran replaced Shiraz as the capital of the Zand dynasty in the mid-eighteenth century, before being proclaimed the capital of the succeeding Qajar dynasty in 1795. Tehran flourished under Qajar patronage, and the city gained the addition of various gardens and complexes, perhaps the most notable being the Kakh-i Gulistan, or Gulistan Palace.
By the early twentieth century, these walls were subsumed by the continually expanding city, as the population growth reached half a million. From 1870-2/1287-9 AH, Nasir al-Din undertook the city's modernization, extending the city walls, adding decorative towers and twelve new, tiled gates. Inspired by the urban development of Paris under Napoleon III, which al-Din had witnessed personally on a visit abroad in 1873, the new walls were designed with the work of Sebastien Leprestre de Vauban in mind, and the area north of the original city transformed to the likeness of the Boulevard Haussman. New avenues and squares were constructed, among them; Meydan-e Tupkhane (Cannon Square) , Avenue Lalezar (Tulipbed Street), and Ala Od Dwale Under al-Din's direction the city quadrupled in size, and many of the gardens surrounding the city were used for further construction. The Kakh-i Gulistan was rebuilt, and became the centerpiece of the city, with the addition of turreted towers, supervised by Dust 'Ali Khan Nizam al Dawla. Polychrome tiles replaced the painted ornamentation in much of the complex, as did carved stucco and decorative mirror-work. In addition to the Kakh-i Gulistan, summer palaces were constructed in the Shimiranat villages in the city's northern suburbs.
Tehran yet again underwent expansion and modernization efforts in the mid-twentieth century, as the prosperity that accompanied the exploitation of oil from the 1950s accelerated the growth of the city. In 1979, Tehran became a hub for revolutionary activities, aimed at concluding the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The city has continued to be a site of development, with over half of Iran's total industry being based in Tehran, and the construction of many research and educational centers.
City of Tehran is an absurd constructed landscape, where density is achieved through massive deployment of a mid-rise building type; which is that of four to five storey apartment buildings. The dominance of this type has yielded a somewhat absurd urban morphology whereas the exterior manifestation of the apartment buildings from a street point of view is limited to a single two-dimensional facade.
Furthermore, the investors demand architects to design for a spatial scenario whereas maximum allowed envelope is built to maximize the profit return of the investment. This intensifies the importance of the facade design in the overall process of conception, development and implementation of buildings since [over]investment on this single facade with the maximum depth of 20 to 40 centimetres to be actually designed is the way to make the building architecturally attractive.
In designing this complex, the architects considered the exterior architectural surface or facade as a micro-section that needs to be architecturally developed as opposed to graphically composed, taking into consideration that construction techniques, technologies and choice of materials are not compromising the financial reasonability/feasibility of the investment as a whole.
Conceptualizing the facade as a neutral yet animated surface that stands in contrast to the humdrum of adjacent urban facades each striving to stand out with somewhat an exhibitionist attitude, was the key feature that allowed their project to stand out as a unique piece of engineering and artistic intervention in its spatial context.